Through living in Berlin and through my research, we’ve learned much about the East German culture of secrecy, a paranoid government and a socialist society gone wrong. Disturbing memorials at a former East German prison and creepy surveillance materials-turned-museum displays were brought home to me when, in the course of my research, I discovered a trove of letters written to the government about my artist and her husband, coordinated efforts by their colleagues to blacklist them.

A hidden camera in a tree stump
Jars of “scent samples” collected on suspected citizens
At the huge Bundesarchiv / SAPMO complex, buildings filled with paper trails that have now been opened to researchers.

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